OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Acting Chief Kevin Kirstein gave an overview last week of the department’s 2012 Annual Report.
In 2012, there were 1,497 reportable offenses, representing incidents that have to be reported to the FBI like homicide, rape, robbery, assault, breaking and entering, larceny and motor vehicle thefts. Since 2006, there has been an average of 1,488 reportable offenses in Ocean City.
Within those offenses, assaults decreased 10.6 percent from last year; burglaries increased by 6.2 percent; and overall reportable offenses increased by 5.1 percent, or 72 calls for service.
“We had a rash of burglaries going in the Caine Woods area and Montego Bay area,” Kirstein explained of the increases. “I am pleased to report to you … the detectives worked diligently on those cases and both the Montego Bay and Caine Woods cases we were able to identify suspects and stop that crime pattern from occurring.”
Kirstein pointed out the reportable offenses, or serious crimes, represent less than 2 percent of all the work OCPD performs. Less than two calls out of every 100 calls for service involve serious crimes.
“That is why I live here, and I am sure that is why you all live here as well,” he said. “It is a safe community and I certainly don’t want somebody to think it is not.”
According to the acting chief, the department’s clearance rate exceeds the national average. The national average clearance rate for rape is 41.2, and Ocean City came in at 50 percent. The national average for burglary is 12.7 and Ocean City came in at 30 percent. The national average for robbery is 28.7 percent and Ocean City came in at 46 percent, and the national average for motor vehicle theft is 11.9 and Ocean City came in at 83 percent.
The top 10 calls for service to OCPD in 2012 was for disorderly conduct, city ordinance violations, 911 hang up, suspicious person or activity, alcohol violations, collisions, parking complaints or violations, controlled substance (CDS) violations, theft that had already occurred and noise complaint or violation.
Kirstein drew attention to a couple of the categories, such as suspicious person or activity.
“The number four thing that we did is investigate suspicious person and activity and that is because our citizens call the police and turn us on to this,” he said as he thanked neighborhood watch and other OCPD partners. “Our guys drove over one million miles last year looking for suspicious activity, and I got to tell you this stuff lends itself to criminal behavior. Where there is smoke often there is fire.”
In 2012, there was a total of 4,335 arrests, an increase of 14 percent; 445 DUI arrests, an increase of 67 percent; 24,479 enforcement actions, an increase of 17 percent; 1,351 CDS arrests, an increase of 16 percent; 112 weapons incidents, an increase of 125 percent; and 46 officers assaulted, a decrease of 25 percent.
“Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen I contribute this entirely to Tasers,” Kirstein said of the decrease in officer assaults. “As a matter of fact, you are going to see a request in next year’s budget for the next phase of Tasers. I would like to have 22 more so that we can outfit the rest of the officers on patrol … $51,000.”
Other highlights of 2012 were 3,355 hours, which equals $110,000, were donated by auxiliary officers. The total donation of hours since the inception of the department’s volunteer division is $1.6 million.
There were over 700 police applicants tested by the OCPD in the last year, representing the most applicants a police department will test in the state, according to Kirstein.
“We have to do that to keep that seasonal program going every year and pace of retirements,” Kirstein said.
OCPD handled many high profile cases, such as the Citgo robbery in Berlin that led to Ocean City and five arrests; an intervention of a Dollar Store being robbed due to a citizen reporting suspicious behavior; the Tipsy Taxi operation that had an undercover officer pose as a taxi driver resulting in 34 suspects charged with over 78 CDS counts; the investigation of a heroin distribution ring called Operation Smackdown that resulted in 23 suspects charged with over 76 CDS buys; and a C.E.T investigation that resulted in recovery of 1,700 bags of heroin coming into Worcester County.
OCPD’s goals for 2013 are to provide the highest quality, efficient police services, utilize high visibility, strict enforcement and professionalism, utilize safety strategies to reduce injuries to officers and suspects, develop and maintain excellent community partnerships, and attract retain highest caliber personnel, and promote the most qualified, highly motivated personnel.
“The reason we are as successful as we are is because of our finest resources, that’s our employees, and in this case it is our officers in those that work with the OCPD,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.